Friday, June 22, 2007

Seminario Weselyano de Venezuela is partnering with the International Leadership Institute and McEachern United Methodist Church to bring the great resources of the Institute to Venezuela in November. In preparation for that event, we are sending three of our leading pastors to Peru to participate in ILI's Latin America Leadership Conference. Pastors Cheo Gonzalez, Toby Ramirez and Carlos Perona (L to R) will travel to Peru and be key leaders in our November Conference.

Dr. Wes Griffin, the founder of ILI will be with us in this event sponsored by the McEachern UMC of Marietta, GA USA. Both Dr. Griffin and McEachern have a heart for the people of Venezuela and the emerging United Methodist Church there. This is an exciting time for us as we all combine resources in a partnership to reach the lost of Venezuela.

Your prayers for this event will be most appreciated.

Joy and Wes Griffin founded the International Leadership Institute (ILI) in 1998 in response to the heart cry of Christian leaders around the world who want to reach their nations with the life transforming power of the Gospel. Today, ILI trains and mobilizes leaders of leaders around the world through advanced training in leadership, evangelism and multiplication. Joy and Wes have a special gift for impacting leaders.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Good News From Venezuela

Our seminary Dean called from Venezuela this morning to give me some great news. Rev. Carlos and Dr. Maria Perona, pastors in Barquisimeto, have announced that they will be joining the newly forming United Methodist Church of Venezuela when it has its first Conference in August. Both of these pastors are recogined leaders in the Protestant church in Barquisimeto, Lara State. They have been students in the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela since its conception. At that time, Carlos was President of the Ministerial Association in Barquisimeto and a well respected leader. His and Maria's enrollment in and endorsement of the seminary was a great step toward the seminary earning legitimacy in Venezuela.

Carlos is a life-long pastor having been converted then serving in the Assembly of God denomination. As with many pastors in Venezuela, he moved to become an independent because of the lack of support within his denomination. As an Independent, he planted several congregations within some of the poorest Barrios in Barquisimeto. He has a global vision of the church which is consistent with the ministry of the seminary and the UMC of Venezuela.

Maria is a pastor alongside Carlos in thier team ministry. This remarkable woman is also a medical doctor, a pediatrician. They have three beautiful children, the youngest of which I was provileged to dedicate when preaching at their church 3 years ago. Their enrollment in the seminary is a testimony to the excellent theological education being provided by the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela.

I have learned to trust Carlos and Maria. They are people of great integrity and the kind of leaders this emerging United Methodist Church needs to effectively reach Venezuela with the Gospel of Christ.

Here is a picture of Carlos and me engaged in conversation on Thursday, June 7, 2007 in our hotel restaurant in Barquisimeto. Carlos requested the meeting to discuss the possibility of becoming United Methodist. We left to return to the US with the mutual commitment to prayer for this momentous decision for him, his family, his churches and the UMC of Venezuela. Thank God for answered prayer.

A Few Highlights from June

Jane doing what she does best: loving children in Venezuela. This is Wilmer, Jr. the newest member of Lugar Altissimo United Church near Barquisimeto. This church was built in memory of our son, Ray, and in honor of Jared. It was the site of Jared's marriage to Lim and our spiritual home in Venezuela.

This is the Lugar Altissimo Church, almost finished.

This is the pastor or the Lugar Alitissimo Church, Pastor Yolanda.

Here are Wilmer and Juni and Wilmer, Jr., faithful members of the Lugar Altissimo Church.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

June Report

Below is a report posted by my wife, Jane, on her blog: Cozy Reader. I hope you will read her report of our recent trip to Venezuela. Additionally, I wanted to report that we had a great week of seminary at the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela. About 55 students attended the classes. The Academic Dean taught "Holiness in the New Testament. I taught "Worship that Transforms." Again we experienced the most responsive students David or I have ever taught. That includes the Dean's experience in multiple Latin American countries and a career of teaching.

Additionally, we had multiple meetings with the United Methodist pastors. They decided to have their organizatoinal annual conference on August 17 and 18, 2007. This historic event will include the formal approval of their External Documents of Incorporation (Discipline) and the election of thier first Bishop and officers. They will also continue work on their Internal Documents (Discipline). Due to the laws common in Latin America, these two functions must remain seperate.

Of course at the Conference, we will engage in the vital worship so intregal to the Venezuelan United Methodist Church. They always lift our spirits when we worship with them.

Anyone who would like to attend this historic event is invited contact me for further information. Also, I want to thank our ministry partners for your support of the work in Venezuela.

We drove from Maiquetia (the location of the airport) to Barquisimeto (about a 5 hour drive) and the scenery is spectacular. The airport is located on the coast and you drive immediately into the hills.

The roads are curvy but it pays off. We made a few stops along the way for snacks and potty breaks and to snap some pictures.

Another shot from the drive through the mountains. The pictures just do NOT do it justice.

Here is one of many flower stands on the streets of Barquisimeto. They grow beautiful flowers of many varieties and they are very inexpensive.

I just had to snap this picture. There is a plastic chair in the tree! We decided it was a Venezuelan "high chair"!!

This is Wilmer and Juni and their precious new baby boy, Wilmer, Jr. They are active members of Lugar Altisimo UMC outside of Barquisimeto, VZ. They are a wonderful young couple.

Little Wilmer is absolutely adorable. He was all smiles and entertained us while we were there. He is three months old.

These are some of the seminary students. Each morning is started with a worship service led by one of the students. The singing is always beautiful. They are all so grateful for the opportunity to attend seminary and be better trained to serve their churches.

Here are three of the students at the seminary. They each have very effective churches. (L-R) Cheo, Thoby and Carlos are all passionate about their ministries and about reaching Venezuela for Christ.

We were able to spend some time with our dear friends, who are missionaries who are also missionaries there. Please be in prayer for these families. There are shortages of many items including eggs, milk, chicken, cooking oil, toilet paper, sugar and butter. They can get these items sometimes but not all the time. The political situation is fragile and they watch things very closely. Pray for their safety and for their ministry with the people of Venezuela.